The municipal authorities of the Saronic Gulf tourist islands of Aegina, Poros, Hydra and Spetses last month , made a joint appeal for a reduction in usage charges at Athens international airport, Eleftherios Venizelos, which they said would encourage more charter flights to the Athens airport and thus give a boost their tourism industry.
Officials presented at a press briefing data from a survey by the Hospitality & Tourism company, showing that among 40 selected airports in Europe and the Mediterranean, Athens rates sixth in the total taxes imposed. The Eleftherios Venizelos Airport takes the same spot in usage charges, said the report.
Comparing Athens’s charges with its major competitors, the Greek capital’s airport is 44 percent more expensive than Barcelona/Madrid, 75 percent more than Istanbul and 230 percent more than Rome/Milan, said the report.
As a result, said the municipal authorities, charter flights to Athens have dropped dramatically, shrinking by 69.5 percent in 2002-2003. Travel agents on hand suggested that a second airport in greater Athens would be useful.
Last year was a record year for the Athens International Airport.
Boosted by the summer’s Olympic Games, the airport was used by a record 13.7 million passengers departing or arriving on 191,000 flights, up 11.5 percent compared to 2003. Domestic passengers rose by 17.1 percent, reaching 5.1 million. International passengers posted an all-time record, numbering 8.5 million.
The greatest increase came from America, the Middle East and Africa. London remained the most popular destination, followed by Larnaca and Paris. The most popular domestic destinations were Thessaloniki, Iraklion and Rodos. AIA added six new destinations abroad and seven new airlines, becoming the third fastest-developing airport in Europe, according to the International Airport Council.